National Electric Light Association. Convention.

Convention, Volume 42, Part 1 online

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cent of lamps manufactured as being 40-watt. The percentage
used in Hartford is 46 per cent.

W. H. RoLiNSON, New York: There is nothing which I can
add to Mr. Smith's report in the way of statistics which would be
of value, for, as in previous years, the report in itself is complete



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from this standpoint. There are certain other features, however,
which it is thought well to emphasize and perhaps to some extent
expand.

As pointed out in the Committee's report, lamp development
during the war period was considerably curtailed, at least in its
commercial aspects, although there was considerable development
of special forms of incandescent lamps for war purposes. The
manufacturers, however, are now directing considerable effort
to the matter of lamp development. The mill type lamp, or more
rugged form of vacuum tungsten filament lamp, is one of the
examples.

The mill type lamp as at present constructed has been found
to be a rather satisfactory substitute for carbon and gem filament
lamps in many of the places where a sturdy filament lamp was
essential, and some limited use of these lamps has been made in
portable lamp service with satisfactory indications. There are
J)ossibilities, however, for a further increase of the strength and
ruggedness of this lamp, and it is thought that by the time the
incoming Lamp Committee makes its report next year an even
more rugged form of mill type lamp than that now produced will ,
be available.

It may be of interest in passing to note that the present style
of mill type lamp is not only produced in 110-volt range but also
in the 220- volt. Some few installations of the 110-volt type of
lamp in street railway service have proved very satisfactory and
the possibility of this lamp for that service seems to have a rather
bright future. The mill type lamp of the 200-volt range has also
been subjected to trial in coal mines and other classes of mines
with rather satisfactory results.

A great deal of time is being devoted by the manufacturers
to the development of more rugged types of lamps. This devel-
opment applies to the entire line of lamps manufactured, as well
as to some of the more specific sizes. Certain experimental
designs of more rugged forms of Mazda C lamps have been de-
veloped which give considerable promise. Mazda C lamps in
themselves have not been what may be termed fragile in any
sense, but there seem to be practical means of increasing the
sturdiness of this lamp, and I therefore look forward to some
development of this character within the next year.



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The 50-watt Mazda C-4 lamp of white glass bulb, which is
exhibited in the wonderful display of the Lamp Committee, should
be of considerable interest to the central station companies. This
lamp with its non-glare characteristics and pleasing color should
find a welcome field in homes, in connection with portable table
and stand lamps and for other decorative purposes. It is not
unlikely that the use of this white glass may be extended to other
sizes of Mazda C lamps; certainly to lower wattage Mazda C
lamps when it is found practicable to produce such lamps of
reasonable quality. There is no indication, however, at this time
of the production of a lower wattage lamp than the 50-watt
Mazda C-4 which has been presented to you.

Your Committee report briefly mentions the development
of rural lighting plants. It may be of interest to the central
station members to note that there are approximately 200,000 of
these plants now in operation and that conservative estimates indi-
cate that new installations of these plants are being made at
the rate of approximately 100,000 per annum.

Your Committee has briefly mentioned the motion picture
lamp, and it may be of interest to state that practically all of the
manufacturers of motion-picture machines have placed on the
market rather satisfactory devices for projection of motion pic-
tures by incandescent lamps. The apparatus is fitted with a trans-
former for converting the energy from 110 volts to 30 volts, 30
amperes being required by the lamps, where proper systems of di-
rect current are made available. It is felt that there will be a con-
siderable number of changes in existing motion-picture theatres
from the present arc lamp equipment to incandescent lamp equip-
ment; but the largest field, and the one which appears to be the
most attractive, is that of schools, colleges and churches. Estab-
lishments of this character have not been able heretofore to use
motion pictures with convenience on account of the difficulties
attendant upon the arc lamp. With the incandescent lamp much
of this^ annoyance has been removed, and the motion-picture
machine people and incidentally the lamp manufacturers look
forward to quite an extensive business in this direction.

Certain of the lamp manufacturers have devised new methods
of packing incandescent lamps which are thought to be of interest
to the central station people. This style of packing, with four



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trays, in the standard sizes of lamps, of 25 lamps each — 100 total
in the container — with each lamp wrapped individually, possesses
the following advantages:

Tests made at the Forest Products Laboratories of the De-
partment of Agriculture and comparable tests run at the work«
of the lamp manufacturing company indicate that approximately
30 to SO per cent less breakage in transportation is experienced.

The size of the container and the total weight are approxi-
mately 30 per cent less than those now standard.

The package contains no excelsior, is solid, and for this
reason shipments should stack more satisfactorily.

The individual wrapping of each lamp should facilitate de-
liveries of odd quantities of lamps by the central stations to their
customers, which upon investigation seems to be the usual pro-
cedure. .

Mr. Smith : On behalf of the Lamp Committee, permit me
to say that we appreciate the time you have given to the presenta-
tion and discussion of its report.

The Lamp Committee for the past twelve years, during
eight of which the speaker has had the honor of being Chairman,
has been most careful to refrain from including in the report
any exact recommendations to member companies as to lam^
policy. This has again been emphasized in the report this year at
the top of page 260. The general information obtained by a very
careful analysis of the questionnaires turned in by the companies
and here reported simply shows the facts as they exist and the ten-
dency on the part of the industry in the matter of lamp policy.

No one is more appreciative of the fact than the speaker that
the Commonwealth Edison Company, as stated by Mr. Ferguson,
has been a most successful company for a period of thirty years,
and while I have no doubt that the lamp policy as outlined by
Mr. Ferguson is a material factor in this success, I feel that noth-
ing has had so much to do with that success as the ability and high
character of the personnel of the company. (Applause.)

The figures as to the distribution of lamps indicate that a
general change of company lamp policy throughout the industry,
whatever that change might have been, has not had the effect of
reducing the average lamp wattage. This fact is clearly brought



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out in Table 5 on page 241, as well as elsewhere in the report. The
average wattage of lamps sold continues to be on the increase.

The President: We will now have an address entitled
"The Electro-Chemical Industries," by Prof. Joseph W. Richards,
Lehigh University, Secretary of the American Electro-Chemical
Society. The metallurgical and chemical industries are becoming
more and more closely connected. Prof. Richards was for two
years connected with the Naval Consulting Board and is now
Chief of the Department of Metallurgy of Lehigh University. It
gives me great pleasure to introduce Prof. Richards.



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THE ELECTRO-CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES

By Joseph W. Richards*

I deem it a great opportunity to be able to speak to you
about electro-chemistry, and as the Secretary of the American
Electro-Chemical Society I cannot escape the suspicion that in
accepting this invitation I may have been doing something to for-
ward the interests of that Society. However, that is incidental ;
my chief purpose is to give a bird's-eye view of what electro-
chemistry is and in what fields it is working, and somewhat of a
survey of the electro-chemical industry.

Electrochemical Industries



I I

Electrolytic Electrothermal

I I

I Electrolysis of | ' | |

Solutions Fused Salts Arc Processes Resistance Furnaces

I will speak first of the general field of the electro-chemical
industry. The chemical industries deal with the problem of taking
the raw materials of nature and making them more valuable. I
will give you an illustration : Take common salt, which co3ts about
$2 a ton as it is taken out of the mine; and we convert it into
caustic soda and chlorine, about half a ton of each, which are
together worth $45 or $50. Take common water, and we convert
it into hydrogen and oxygen; each of which has a considerable
commercial value. Take the air, oxygen and nitrogen, and by
means of electrical arc processes we cause the oxygen and nitro-
gen to combine to nitric acid.

These are samples taken at random of how the raw materials
of nature are converted by chemical operations into more valuable
materials for commercial use.

Metallurgy is one of the branches of applied chemistry. The
function of the metallurgist is to take ores in which the metals
occur in nature and extract from them the metals so that they may
be usefully applied. When in the course of metallurgical opera-

*Profe88or of Metallurgy, Lehigh University, and Secretary of American Eletcro-
Chemical Society.

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tions you use electrical current, either for its electrolytic or its
electro-thermal power, you have an electro-metallurgical opera-
tion. As illustrations of this, it is possible, and in some few coun-
tries profitable, at the present time, to make pig iron from iron
ore by means of the electric furnace. It is almost everywhere
profitable to refine impure copper into pure copper by means of
an electrolytic operation.

We may therefore say in general that electro-chemistry deals
with using electric energy to convert the raw materials of nature
into more valuable materials, such as extracting metals from the
ores, refining the metals, and similar operations which render
them of increased value.

The electro-chemical industries may be divided into two
broad classes, according to the way in which you use the electric
current — ^we will divide them into: I: Electrol)rtic Processes.
II: Electro-Thermal Processes.

The difference between these is this — if you send a direct cur-
rent through a liquid, you can decompose it ; the electric current
is an Extremely active and powerful chemical decomposing agent.
If you have the conditions right, and send a current through an
anode to a cathode, through an electrol)rte, you can split the com-
pound up into its constituents. There is no chemical compound
that cannot be split up by the electric current ; in fact, the electric
current is so powerful that it requires less than ten volts to break
up the strongest chemical compound known. Thus an insignifi-
cant direct current voltage is practically able to perform the
strongest chemical operations and to decompose the strongest
chemical compounds.

Therefore, electrolysis puts into the hands of the chemist an
extremely strong agent, very frequently a simple agent, by which
he can break a compound into its constituents in a way which he
cannot do by any ordinary chemical operation. This principle is
the basis of a large part of the electro-chemical industries. In
such cases the operation requires very little voltage, as I have said,
but the output of the operation is proportional to the number of
amperes that go through the cell; it is not proportional to the
energy employed.

The amperes of current flowing through the electrolyte de-
termine how much of the compound is decomposed and how



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much of ^ts constituents will be liberated, so that you have an
entirely different basis for calculation from what you have with
ordinary electrical questions, where the energy of the electric cur-
rent is the chief factor. The output is proportional to the amperes
which flow through, if you get anywhere near 100 per cent ampere
efficiency.

Speaking broadly of the second class, the electro-thermal
class is made up of those operations in which we use the electric
current solely, or principally, for its heating effect; that is, it is
used as a heating agent. The advantages which the electric cur-
rent gives us in that respect are these : first, you have a heating
agent which is absolutely under your control; second, you can
generate the heat almost exactly where you want it, and utilize
it at high efficiency. If you want to heat substances by ordinary
means, coal or gas, it is very seldom that you obtain more than
10 to 20 per cent efficiency in heating. The maximum efficiency
of heating that I know of in metallurgical operations, using fuel,
is in melting pig iron in a f oimdry cupola ; the maximum efficiency
of heating there obtained is about 35 per cent In melting steel
in a crucible the efficiency is about 2 per cent. Between those
extremes you have the ordinary efficiencies of applying the heat
generated by coal and gas. But electrical heat is generated so
much under your control, just where you want it, that you start
with efficiencies of about 35 per cent and run up to efficiencies of
nearly 90 per cent of the energy of the current actually usefully
utilized, averaging between 50 and 75 per cent. It is because of
that very high efficiency of utilization of electrical heat that it is
possible to use electricity in these electro-thermal operations,
because electrically generated heat, except under very unusual cir-
cumstances, costs a great deal more than the same amount of heat
generated by means of fuel.

There are only a f^w places in the world where electrical
heat is cheaper than fuel heat, such, for instance, as parts of Nor-
way, where electric current can be purchased at $7.50 per horse-
power-year, or $10 a kilowatt-year, and where coal costs from
$15 to $20 a ton. Under such conditions you can heat your house
by means of electrically generated heat cheaper than you can by
coal. Those are exceptional conditions, but ordinarily electrical



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heat is commercial only by reason of the greater efficiency at
which we apply it.

We will now briefly classify the electrolytic industries : what
are they and what is their extent ?

The original electroljrtic industry is electro-plating. In elec-
tro-plating operations you have a slab of pure metal which you
use as an anode put opposite the object to be plated in an elec-
trol)rte which contains the metal which you are to deposit as a
plating, and passing the current you plate it with the metal from
the solution. This is a large industry, as you know. Think of the
extent of the gold and silver plating industries and the nickel
plating industry. These industries are nearly one hundred years
old. Silver and gold plating was first done with batteries, before
the dynamo was invented. Since the invention of the dynamo
these industries have extended their operations very greatly.

These industries are very largely distributed throughout the
country. The usual small electro-plating plants consume small
amounts of power, but there are some large electro-plating plants
which use up considerable electric energy.

As far as concerns central station power plants, almost all of
these electro-plating plants run on one shift of ten hours a day,
and therefore they do not require power continuously. It can be
arranged with them to take the power mostly in the "off-peak"
hours ; when they wish to work overtime it should be done after
midnight, in the early morning hours, instead of before midnight.

Besides plating for simply decorative purposes, plating is done
for commercial purposes; for instance, electro-galvanizing, that
is, the electro-plating of zinc. You are familiar with the electro- ^
zinc plated conduits used in commercial wiring. That is a use of
zinc plating to put a covering on these conduits to prevent corro-
sion. Such plants are, in general, run on a somewhat large scale,
and consume more power than those which merely do plating for
decorative purposes.

Out of the electrolytic plating industries grew the electro-
refining metal industries, which are commercially of much more
importance and consume a great deal more power. The electro-
platers used a nearly pure metal anode to renew the bath, but if
the anode was impure there was a residue of impurities left in
the bottom*of the bath. The Elkington Brothers in England were



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plating copper, and they observed that the impurities in the copper,
particularly the silver and gold, fell down as mud in the bottom
of the bath. Then the thought came to them : Why not use this
method of plating metal from anode to cathode us a method of
refining it? From this arose the electrol)rtic metal refining indus-
tries. These are all based on the principle of taking as anode the
impure metal you want to refine, putting it in a solution of salt
that contains the metal, passing direct current through the bath,
depositing it as pretty nearly pure metal on the cathode, and
leaving the bulk of the impurities as mud or unattacked residue
to fall to the bottom of the bath. Some of the impurities will go
into solution, such as nickel, zinc and iron, but when using a
copper anode the platinum, silver and gold stay in the mud, and
are completely recovered, while pure copper only deposits at the
cathode. That is the principle which lies at the foundation of the
electrol)rtic refining of copper.

The same principle has been applied to the electrolytic re-
fining of silver, gold, lead, zinc, tin and several other metals, but
that of copper is the principal one. Over 90 per cent of all the
copper made is put through the electrolytic refineries. There is
one refinery near New York, for instance, that refines over five
hundred tons of copper in a day when in full operation. This is
about $150,000 worth of copper a day, in one refinery. The
question of the supply of power to such an industry is very impor-
tant. The power required in such large plants runs into the
thousands of kilowatts, but as far as central station men are con-
cerned, that power is usually considered as constant for twenty-
four hours a day, and it has a 100 per cent load factor.

I wish to state, however, that I do not think that the electro-
chemists — I mean particularly the men running such electrolytic
refining industries — ^have worked out as far as can be done the
possibility of running for certain hours a day on reduced power.
In many plants where the current is now steadily used for twenty-
four hours a day it would be quite possible, in my opinion, to
reduce the current materially for a few hours a day, without any
damage to the product except reduced output. If you do that,
your overhead expenses go on just the same, and it therefore
costs money to do it, but you must balance the loss against the
gain. It is a question for the central stations to decide whether



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they can make great reductions if they furnish the current fully
during, say, twenty hours a day, and say for four hours a day at
two-thirds to one-third the full current, in order to ke^p the
operation running. Metallurgically, I see no reason why it cannot
be done, but it is entirely a question of balancing financially the
advantages against the disadvantages.

I know of a very large copper refining plant which, before
it put up its own power plant, tried to make arrangements with
the local city power company to secure the power needed on the
basis of reducing the amount of power which it would take at
certain hours. The arrangement fell through, because the parties
concerned did not thoroughly understand each other, and did not
go quite to the bottom of the proposition, analyzing the problem,
and getting into their minds exactly the differences which would
be caused by the proposed arrangement. I know that the electro-
chemists were anxious to make the arrangement with the power
company, but I think there were faults on both sides; each side
did not go to the bottom of the problem in the manner it should
have done.

Next in line to these electrolytic refining processes are those
which extract metal from a compound. There are opportunities
of using the electrolytic power of the current in getting the metal
from its ores, and these methods are being rapidly extended at
the present time. One of them, which you will understand very
easily, is, for instance, in the extraction of copper from its ores.
Most of the ores of copper are insoluble in water, but you can
dissolve them in acid. There is a large mine in Chile, in which
the ore is easily soluble in dilute sulphuric acid. The ore is
crushed and placed in vats holding about one thousand tons at a
time, and leached with sulphuric acid. This brings the copper
into solution. Then the solution of sulphate of copper is taken
to decomposing tanks, and you have unattackable anodes — a sheet
of lead with 4 per cent antimony does very well — and pass a cur-
rent through. Then the current takes the metal out of the solu-
tion, extracts it in a pure state, deposits it on the cathode as pure
copper, and leaves in solution sulphuric add. The solution is
then ready to go back to the tanks and take up some more copper,
so that the acid is used over and over again. Oxygen gas is liber-
ated at the lead anode, which lasts many months.



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That sounds almost too easy to be true, but it is true. The
Chile Copper Company is working it on a scale of 10,000 tons
of copper ore a day, and it is probably making copper by that
method cheaper than any other copper-producing works in the
world. This is a much simpler and cheaper operation than any
other that could be applied to the handling of that ore.

The same principle, slightly modified, has been applied to the
extraction of zinc. Within the last five years large plants have
been put up in this coimtry and abroad for the electrol)rtic ex-
traction of zinc. The chief ore of zinc is zinc sulphide, which is
insoluble ia water, but if you roast it carefully you can convert
part of the zinc sulphide into zinc sulphate which is soluble in
water, and leave part as zinc oxide. You take the zinc sulphate
solution, pass it through the electrolytic cell, deposit zinc, and
leave the sulphuric acid. That sulphuric acid can be used to
leach the residue of the ore which contains zinc oxide, and will
dissolve out the rest of the zinc. The solution is electrolyzed for
its zinc like the first solution. Plants to treat zinc in that way
have been put up on a great scale. At Great Falls, Montana, a
plant with a capacity of 200 tons of zinc a day has been erected.
Several million dollars were put into it, but the price of high-
grade zinc went so high during the war that the plant was paying
for itself every few months it was in operation. Electrolytic zinc
is far purer than the ordinary zinc made in retorts, and is so pure
you can use it in making the finest quality of brass for cartridges,
whereas most zinc is not fit for making that quality of brass. It
runs 99.98 pure and commands a higher price than ordinary retort
zinc.

This industry is rapidly extending. I am speaking of indus-
tries that have but recently been put in operation. This electro-
lytic extraction of copper from its ore by the use of electric cur-
rent, and the electrol)rtic production of zinc are at thp present
time rapidly extending, so that you will read more and more
about them in the transactions of the societies which interest
themselves in electro-chemical processes.

Gold is another example of a metal which can be extracted
from its ore in this way. You can take a gold ore, treat it with
a potassium cyanide solution, which dissolves out the gold, and



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then precipitate the gold from the solution by means of electric
current. Gold and silver can both be extracted in that way.

Another variety of the electrol)rtic processes is the conver-



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